Like many of my generation, I use OkCupid. No, I won’t tell you what my handle is. I’m not one of those people who thinks online dating is inherently “weird” or “creepy” (though it is a bit odd), as I’ve used it with moderate success over the past few years. A better descriptor might be “very, very different”. Every time I go on an OkCupid date, I’m struck by how much it resembles some sort of strange, two-way job interview:
Initial message (cover letter): demonstrate that you are familiar with the person (company), explain briefly why you’d be a good fit, point out a few shared interests, and hope you talk again.
Profile view (resume review): at this point, the person will either look at your profile, or at least your photo, and decide whether or not you’re worth answering. Much like a job you apply cold for, people don’t bother to reply unless they’re interested. The big difference is, OkC tells you when somebody views your profile. While getting no response to your resume is somewhat disappointing, knowing they looked at it before throwing it in the trash might be even worse.
Date (interview): So let’s assume your first few exchanges of messaging went OK. The other person is convinced you’re not a weirdo or a rapist/murderer, at least not yet. You meet some place very casual, almost always “for a drink” or “for coffee”. OkC first dates differ from other first dates because you normally go into a first date armed with very little knowledge. If you were set up via mutual friends, they might tell you a thing or two, but other than that, you’re usually flying somewhat blind. The upside of online dating is that when it gets to an actual date, each person knows what’s on the table: they are at least interested in the prospect of going out with this other person. In the 21st century, that can be a very difficult thing to figure out, at least for men (before you ask, no, I don’t ambush date, but I have known friends who did, and man, it’s not pretty). The double-edged sword is information: you go into the date with a dossier of information about your date, but also the knowledge that they know just as much about you as you do about them. Of course, things could end very quickly if they turn on the crazy too early, or if you were lying with your photographs (I never understood that one. Are people dating online so desperate that they would just suck it up and date somebody who looks nothing like their picture because they fear being alone so much?)
Other Dates/Sex/Both (You got the job!): If things go really well, you’ll either hook up (eventually), go on other dates, or in rare (in my experience) cases, you’ll get a new steady boyfriend/girlfriend. I suspected that many people use online dating as a means to find casual sex without seeming overly creepy or desperate about it, and this suspicion has been confirmed through my own experience and that of other friends, both male and female, gay and straight. I suppose sometimes you take on a shitty job until you land the gig of your dreams, right?